Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Art of Requesting

It's that time of year again:  Time to submit teacher requests for the next school year.  I once believed requesting teachers was wrong.  I think I was too close to the issue; being a teacher I couldn't see the "big picture".  Then my view point changed when I had kids of my own.  My new viewpoint has some distinct points.  They are as follows:

1) All students/kids learn differently.  The learning style of the child should, if possible, line up with the teachers style of teaching.

2) Past experiences do matter.  If my oldest son had a specific teacher and we as parents built a strong trust and connection with the teacher, that would make a difference in how we, as parents, feel heading into a new school year.

3) By having a say in my child's teacher I have invested in that teacher.  Having a personal vested interest creates an embracing attitude and a stronger willingness to support the teacher.

These three reasons have shifted my thinking from believing that requests hurt schools to believing that requesting is an integral part of the educational process.  Even as I type this, I feel strongly compelled to explain what a true request should look like.

After years of looking at requests, I have found the best requests do a few things really well.  First, when requesting you need to describe your child.  Describe your child's strengths and weaknesses. Describe academic areas of struggle. Describe how your child learns best, and above all describe your child's personality.  I believe that personality is vital.  When I place students, I look very closely at personality.  Will the students personality conflict or collaborate?

Second, a good request will usually reference a couple of specific instances from the past year that worked really well or did not work well.  This may focus on behaviors more than academics.

Finally, as parents, try to describe the "type" of teacher that your child learns best from.  Stating a specific name (of teacher) can be okay if you are 100% sure which teacher will be there, but sometimes events occur that are out of our control.  If this happens it is best to have a description of the "type" of teacher rather than just a name.

Requesting is important, and I take this very serious.  I always put a lot of time and effort into it.  I look at boy/girl ratio, personalities, academics and behaviors.  On average it takes me multiple weeks to complete class lists.  I pride myself in knowing all students and in knowing all teachers.  I always find additional parent information helpful.  If you are unsure on a request, please feel free to contact me and ask me questions.  I'm more than willing to tell you who I believe would be the best fit.  I want all students to be safe, highly educated and to love learning.  This is why classroom placements are an important part of the process.


Friday, April 19th:  Hat Day all-students $1 to wear a hat in school
Monday, April 22nd - Thursday, April 25th:  Kindergarten Round-Up, 4pm-8pm at Parma El.
Monday, April 22nd: Earth Day (encourage your child to wear green)


3 Ways To Engage Students With Technology

Getting Involved In Your Child's School

Talking to Kids about Headline News


Inspiring Video I shared with students in grades 3-5 last week.  (12 min)

Motivators and Rewards.  60 second parent tips.

Friday, April 5, 2013

My Opinion of Healthy

As we enter the final quarter of the 2012-2013 school year this is a typical time to reflect on learning and growth.  I tend to reflect by viewing pictures from the fall, checking out student work samples, having discussions with students and observing overall maturity.  These pieces of information tell me quite a bit.  I realize we as a school tend to put numbers or letters on things, but I don't always put a ton of stock in shear numbers or letters.

Take my oldest son for example.  This has been a year of substantial growth.  My oldest has come a long way in a year's time.  His maturity level has increased significantly.  He now chooses to read as a hobby, he is more thoughtful in conversation and he listens much better than he did a year ago.  Now if I want to get picky I would tell you he still procrastinates, he still needs to remember to do his chores and he could definitely use more exercise.  This being said he has come a long way in one year.

As a parent I used to look at growth by the numbers or letters on a report card.  I still look at these items, but my biggest stock comes from my own interactions.  I'm a believer in educating the "whole child", I firmly believe teaching respect and responsibility are as important as reading and math.  I also believe that respect and responsibility should not influence a student's grade, those aspects should be communicated to students and parents and included in the "comments" section of the report card.

Which brings me to my point.  What is healthy?  In my opinion I believe "healthy" to be the student that is motivated to learn and grow for the sake of bettering themselves.  I always have a bit of fear creep in when I hear students focusing too much on their grade.  Grades have been used as a motivating tool for years, but is this healthy?  I tend to believe it isn't.  I believe healthy is the student that is motivated to learn.  I also believe there are three levels of understanding:

1 - You Understand it and you can explain it

2 - You are progressing towards understanding

3 - You need more assistance to help you understand

In most day to day things that I do I do not receive a grade.  I do have to constantly motivate myself to continue to learn and grow.  At some point for most people grades cease to exist and then the motivating factor changes.  I believe there is no time better than now to shift a child's thinking away from grades and to a higher force...knowledge!

How do you motivate?  Do you believe the motivating tools you use are healthy?


Tuesday, April 9th:  4pm Western String Team in the Warner Cafeteria
Tuesday, April 9th:  PTO Meeting 7pm in the Warner Library
Wednesday, April 10th:  Boy Scouts at Warner 6pm
Thursday, April 11th:  Spring Pictures at Warner
Thursday, April 11th:  Kindergarten Orientation 7pm at the CAC
Saturday, April 13th:  Warner Vendor Fair contact Jody Rooney for information and details

Articles Worth Reading:

Homework Strategies (worth a look) shared by @behaviordoctor

Parent like a Pirate by @blocht574

The Danger of Grading Our Schools by @rggillespie

Videos Worth Watching:

60 Second Positive Parenting tip

Great example of brotherly love! (5 min) Worth every second of your time!